Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

10.22. How can I chat with someone else on the Internet?

If you want to have a real-time, one-on-one conversation with someone and you know that person's e-mail address, you can use the talk program to type "live" messages to each other. talk is a very simple program that lets two people converse--you'll see a split screen with your words on one half and your friend's on the other. As you type, your friend sees what you have to say immediately--typos and all. It's basic, interactive, two-way communication that works between many Internet sites.

Note: Because there are so many kinds of computers on the Internet, not all of them support talk. Even worse, the ones that do don't necessarily have talk programs that can talk to each other. A variety of alternate talk programs are available, like ytalk and ntalk. Check with your system administrator to see which one will work for you.

To make a talk request, simply type

If the person you wish to communicate with is online and willing to receive messages, he will see an invitation to talk.
Message from Talk_Daemon@jive at 23:29 ...
talk: connection requested by
talk: respond with:  talk
If he isn't available, you'll see a message like this. Pretty simple.
[Your party is not logged on.]
Note: Most talk programs will send a zillion or so talk requests at regular intervals until they are answered. Each request dumps a few lines of text to the recipient's screen, which will annoy the heck out of someone who is, say, in the middle of composing an e-mail message or trying to use a database. When making a talk request, let it "ring through" once and then type control-c to stop the annoying messages. Wait to see whether the recipient "returns your call."

Here's a sample talk session:

[Ringing your party]
[Ringing your party again]
hey, how's it going?

Yum. Dill pickles?

fine. I'm hungry and could really go for a nice pickle pizza
right about now.

Table of Contents | Previous Section | Next Section